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Mu Shu steak & apple wraps make the grade

Mu Shu steak & apple wraps can be part of a nutritious diet during test-taking season. (Beef Industry Council photo)

April is full of school standardized testing activities such as SAT's, American College Testing (ACT) and preparation for final exams. It's a great time to remind parents and students that many studies show a direct link between nutritious, well-balanced meals and positive academic performance and behavior. Well-balanced meals incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean protein and low-fat or non-fat dairy. The United States Department of Agriculture's MyPlate tool is a great resource to help create a healthy plate.

Keep this in mind when choosing lean protein for your plate: Lean beef provides a simple and delicious way to help children meet the daily recommendations for several key nutrients in fewer calories — including many nutrients most children don't get enough of each day. A 3-oz serving of lean beef (about the size of an iPhone) contains about 150 calories yet provides more than 10 percent of the Daily Value for 10 essential nutrients kids need for healthy growth and development: protein, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, choline, selenium and phosphorus.

Most Americans struggle from time to time getting their plate just right. Many are surprised, however, to learn that a 10-year study published in the journal Nutrients showed adolescent girls did not consume the recommended amounts of fruit, vegetables and dairy, and that three out of four consumed less than the recommended amounts in the Protein Foods group.

Additional studies have also shown that children of both genders are not getting enough of several nutrients, including calcium, iron and zinc.

Many people don't realize beef is the No. 1 food source of zinc. Research indicates that in healthy, school-aged children, an increase in zinc intake improves cognitive performance, visual memory, word recognition tasks, reasoning, psychomotor function and attention skills.

Beef is also a good source of iron. Approximately 60 percent of girls ages 12-19 are not meeting the Recommended Dietary Allowance for iron each day. Research shows that even mild, short-term iron deficiency affects academic performance. Iron deficiency may also affect learning abilities in school-aged children, especially the ability to understand math.

Another report found that 84 percent of children studied who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), also had abnormal iron stores. In addition, they found the children with the lowest iron stores had the most ADHD symptoms.

Beef is a food that many enjoy eating and its flavor profile pairs well with other foods, making it a great vehicle to introduce other nutritious foods to help create a balanced plate. This Mu Shu Steak & Apple Wraps recipe makes it easy to incorporate many food groups. If you don't have a Tri-tip Steak, a Sirloin Steak would be a good substitute.

For more recipes visit or For more information on creating healthful diets contact Holly Swee, RD, LN, Director of Nutrition & Consumer Information for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council at 605-224-4722.

Mu Shu steak & apple wraps

• Total Recipe Time: 25 to 30 minutes

• Makes 4 servings


4 beef Tri-Tip Steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 4 ounces each)

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon honey

Salt (optional)

3 cups tri-color coleslaw mix (with green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots)

1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and thinly sliced

8 medium whole wheat flour tortillas (8 to 10-inch diameter), warmed


  1. Combine cinnamon and pepper; press evenly onto beef steaks. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Place steaks in skillet; cook 9 to 12 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally.
  2. Combine hoisin sauce and honey in large bowl. Carve steaks into thin slices; season with salt, if desired. Add steak slices, coleslaw mix and apple to hoisin mixture; toss to coat.
  3. Place equal amounts of beef mixture down center of each tortilla, leaving 1-1/2-inch border on right and left sides. Fold bottom edge up over filling. Fold right and left sides to center, overlapping edges; secure with wooden picks, if necessary.

*Recipe courtesy of the Beef Checkoff Program

-- Holly Swee is the director of nutrition and consumer information for the South Dakota Beef Industry Council.